Archive for August, 2010

Iggy ‘n’ Mami

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I can’t believe it – my friend and his wife saw Iggy Pop in Atlantic City, and she got onstage with the mob to boogie around.  There she is – go Mami go!!

Rainbow in the sky

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Went to the park yesterday, and saw something amazing – when we looked up in the sky just before noon, we saw a rainbow, in a U-shape, underneath the sun.

Last night Naoko and Zen and I watched The Lightning Thief, which is a recent film based on the book, published in 2005, called Percy Jackson and the Olympians Part 1: The Lightning Thief. The book is not bad – it rips off Harry Potter a fair bit, and gets its inspiration otherwise from Greek mythology, so no need to invent anything there either, but it is a fun piece of work for kids to enjoy, and Zen loves the story. I read the book to him for a while, so that he could understand the plot better, and also so that he could understand what was going on with the Greek gods, but now he loves the story as his own.

I didn’t find the film better than the book, simply because it trimmed out so much (good and bad) from the original tale. Here’s a list of the characters that the film didn’t include:

  • Thalia (a late-era daughter of Zeus)
  • Ares, God of War
  • Clarice (a late-era daughter of Ares)
  • Two of the three Furies (the film depicts one, the book introduces all three)
  • Nancy Bobofit, a bratty prep school girl
  • a zebra, a lion and an antelope
  • a poodle
  • Procrustes (a.k.a. Crusty, the waterbed salesman)
  • Echidna
  • Chimera
  • Kronos
  • Dionysus
  • the Oracle
  • the Fates
  • … not to mention Hades’ Helm of Darkness

That’s quite a few characters. Ares and Kronos are actually central to the book’s plot, so as the books get filmed the divergence from the plot is going to become hard to keep up with, since Kronos is this series’ Voldemort, but I care more for the book than the film. Another thing that is a bit odd is that the gods are a bit more “dad-like” and “mom-like” than they are in the book, where they are just as aloof about the actions of their offspring as you’d imagine an immortal would be

Interestingly, the film does introduce two characters that the book doesn’t, namely Hydra and Persephone, the latter of which provides great comic entertainment. The film also has a lot of fun with Medusa (and her head), played by Uma Thurman, that isn’t really alluded to in the book.  And there’s also something else that is interesting – while it seems that the film doesn’t deal with Sally Jackson’s loathsome husband (Percy’s step-dad Gabe Ugliano, played by Joe Pantoliano of Matrix/Memento/Sopranos) in the movie, there’s a secret scene in the middle of the credits where they do just that).

But Zen liked it a lot. He even blogged about it today, which was good fun. And that’s what really counts.

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief

Haircut Sunday

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Hey, Zen and I got haircuts today – check out the before ‘n’ after below.

We went to the nearby Tomcut, where we usually go because it’s close, but there were about six people waiting and there was only one guy cutting. The place is nothing special anyway, so I decided to go to a nearby barbershop that I had seen many times when I passed by, but had never used. Turns out the place is really great! It was nearly empty, and there were two Indian gentlemen waiting to cut our hair and only one previous customer who was just finishing up. The younger gentleman cut Zen’s hair and chatted nicely with him. We got cuts, massages and some “old man” hair oil rubbed into our scalps. They would have shaved our necks, but I wasn’t interested and waived it.

Before the haircut...

Before the haircut...

...and after the haircut!

...and after the haircut!

Typewriter and Rudra at Baybeats

Friday, August 20th, 2010

After a long and hard and tiring day at work, my colleague Arush and I headed for drinks and food at the Golden Cafe, then moved off to the Singapore Baybeats festival at the Esplanade. It had been a rainy and cool day, and was still spitting rain, and we might have been disinclined to go there, but I really wanted to make a go of finally attending – I’ve been in Singapore seven years and haven’t seen its only indie festival. A bit of rain and tiredness was no reason to cancel, and after a few beers I was feeling much better!

We got there and wandered around, caught a wee bit of “Car Crash Hearts” at the outdoor theatre, they were okay; then headed over to the Powerhouse stage 50 metres away to catch Duxton Plains, who were a bit better. They had a bit of the U2 Big Sound thing happening, but they weren’t great either. After their short set, we went off to see Typewriter, who were playing with Jon Auer of the Posies, back at the outdoor theatre, and they were amazing. Typewriter are one of these great Singapore bands that I’ve heard about on Myspace, but haven’t come across while in Singapore. And then I got a chance to see them for the first time on a proper stage on the riverfront, this time playing with Jon Auer oftthe Posies, who has also come to fame in recent years for playing with Big Star – one of my favourite bands! They played nice songs throughout the first part of their set, and I kept yelling for Big Star of course (since I don’t know any Typewriter or Posies songs). And so, they play beautiful, jangly songs, they play that cool Typewriter song that is on their Myspace page, and then Jon plays a beautiful solo song. Unfortunately, it’s 10:30, and a bunch of fireworks pop off in the background. Typewriter rejoin him on stage, and they launch into a great version of Big Star’s “September Gurls.” Amazing! Here’s the video:

After that, they played a Typewriter original, “That Deepest Blue”. Here’s a look at that.

A few others have posted videos of the night. Someone who was standing near where I was put up some up, as did someone who was in mid-section seating, they’re pretty good:

Flavor of the Month:

Six Feet Under:

Pop Music of the Future (this is where the fireworks start going off in the background, nearly ruining a beautiful, mellow song:

By the way, this song is by a band called “Say Hi To Your Mom.”

Details:

Afterwards, Arash and I moved another 50 metres to the Powerhouse stage to catch Rudra. We got there just in time – a huge crowd had gathered, and the band cut loose just after we arrived. They came out dressed in identical outfits – cutoff black t-shirts, black pants, black ESP guitars, and all that cool stuff. The lights were all over the place and going crazy. The band was amazing. They zoomed out into this crazy metallic grindcore vedic death metal and we all loved it. I looked around, and most of the crowd was either Singapore Malay or Singapore South Indian, not a lot of Chinese faces at all. I guess that’s just the way rock ‘n’ roll is. But it was fantastic. Check out the video for the opening song (it got cut off when my camera ran out of memory – I’ll have to do something about that…).

Someone else managed to catch my favourite part of the show on video – this was when the lead singer introduced the rest of the band:

Here’s Rudra’s video for “Hymns From The Blazing Chariot”, to give a sense of what ‘vedic metal’ is all about:

Here are a few pics:

Rudra!!!

Rudra!!!

Rudra!!!!!!

Rudra!!!!!!

Rudra!!!!!!!!!

Rudra!!!!!!!!!

Arush and I stayed there for about five songs, then headed back. I was lucky, got a bus almost right away, and drifted home, listened to “Dark Side of the Moon”, finished reading Carlucci’s Edge, got off the bus, walked home, blogged.

Funk!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Found some irresistable funk videos today:

A day on Sentosa

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

We had a great weekend. Saturday night we went to a friend’s house for a home party, and on Sunday we went with our Canadian-Japanese friends Brian and Yuko with their two lovely boys to Sentosa, our second excursion there. They picked us up at 3:00 in the afternoon, we drove to Vivo City, we took a monorail on to Siloso Beach. Had to laugh at the ridiculous announcements – there was only a minute or so between stops, but they made sure to pack it full of obvious information, corny descriptions and basic alerts.

Gaudi water pavilion action on Sentosa!

Gaudi water pavilion action on Sentosa!

Zen's waterfall meditation

Zen's waterfall meditation

Kite kids 1

Kite kids 1

Kite kids 2

Kite kids 2

Kite kids 3

Kite kids 3

Space Zen

Space Zen

Flyin' high again

Flyin' high again

Sentosa good vibes

Sentosa good vibes

Kite conductor Zen

Kite conductor Zen

Kite kids 4

Kite kids 4

Kite kids 5

Kite kids 5

Barely hanging on

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Isn’t life amazing? Here’s a tree that has managed to find a nice place to make a home – on a brick wall.

Hang in there

Hang in there

Great weekend

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

We had another wonderful weekend. On Saturday, we woke up early-ish and got ready to leave the house for our lunch downtown in Ootoya in the new Orchard Central mall, where our dear friend Peggy works. Zen did his homework, then we took the bus at 11:00, arriving around 11:50. It was our first itme in Orchard Central; I had not been in any hurry to go there, since I don’t really care a fig about new malls – they would usually simply be more of the same thing – but this one had a cool upper deck with eating areas, outdoor escalators, an indoor rock-climbing simulation, a tall stretched woman statue, and other cool things. I was also impressed that we had the place mostly to ourselves. Got to Ootoya at noon, and we were one of the first guests, but it quickly filled up. The food was yummy, the decor cool and relaxed, and the staff friendly. The only problem was that things were a bit on the slow side, and my meal arrived much earlier than Naoko and Zen’s, but nobody was starving or in any great hurry. Peggy came out a few times to talk to us, but she was too busy to spend much time with us. But at least we know what her shop is like, and we were very impressed.

After a slow wander from the eighth floor down to the second floor, we took the bus to North Bridge Road and the Renaissance and Excelsior Hotel basement where we shopped for a guitar for Naoko. We first found a shoe shop, where we bought Adidas cleats for Zen (he’s taking soccer as an extracurricular activity in his school) at a good price, then we picked up Naoko’s guitar at Guitar 77. It’s an electric acoustic cutaway built by Celtone, a very handsome device. We then tried to take Zen’s broken camera to some camera shops to see if they would repair them, but they all laughed at us. Camera salesmen are really the biggest assholes in retail sales, at least in Singapore. Then we headed home by bus.

When we got home, Zen’s mood disintegrated, and he sulked and fought about the three pages of homework that he needed to do. Finally, he got it done after dinner, and that night we just watched an episode of Space: 1999 (“Voyager’s Return”) and read from The Lightning Thief. I stayed up late watching the Leonard Cohen concert DVD “Live In London.”

Sunday we slept late, but Zen was up early. As difficult as Zen was on Saturday about homework, Sunday he was the opposite – he had it all done before breakfast! Naoko whipped up apple pancakes, and we had a great morning playing catch in the park and kicking the soccer ball. In the afternoon. I did a bunch of work, and listened to Leonard Cohen.

Zen ordered kids' hamburger steak, with a cool flag of Norway in it.

Zen ordered kids' hamburger steak, with a cool flag of Norway in it.

Ootoya is great!

Ootoya is great!

Super Peggy and Ultra-Zen

Super Peggy and Ultra-Zen

Naoko and Peter and their guitars

Naoko and Peter and their guitars

His 'n' hers guitars.

His 'n' hers guitars.

Zen also likes Space: 1999

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Today I worked from home. That means that I walked Zen to school at 7:15 AM, did some work in the morning, picked him up at 12:30, had a family lunch, and did some work in the afternoon. When I took my afternoon break, it was with Zen – we threw the softball around, and practiced soccer. Then we had a great dinner of Naoko’s superb hamburgers. In the evening we had a great laugh talking about “Fantastic Mister Fox”, then we played the monkey game, Uno, Black Peter, and the train game. We had major big laughs when we talked about which was our favourite scene from Fantastic Mister Fox (Naoko’s is the scene in Ash’s room with the train set, Zen’s is when Ash had his jacket tucked into his pants, and mine is when Bean throws a fit in his trailer and knocks everything onto the floor). Such great fun.

Zen and I are having a lot of fun these days watching episodes of Space: 1999, the old BBC TV series. At the time that it was filmed, 1975-1977, it was the most expensive TV series ever created, and in some ways it shows with the really great costumes, sets, and special effects. The stories are a bit ponderous, some of them are scary, all of them are mysterious, and the dialogue is terrible:

-To be haunted by your own host, even before you die-what’s that all about?
- Life and death – still the big questions, the greatest mysteries.

- Survivors of the Uranus (Your-anus) expedition of 1986.

- I am Jack, the commander of the Uranus (Your-anus) probe.

- Ah – supernatural, yes; paranormal… no!”

Zen loves the old stories, and isn’t turned off by the long passages that have lots of dialogue, which often deals with scientific concepts (or maybe pseudo-scientific concepts). Today we were watching “Alpha Child”, and I stopped it every now and then when I thought that he might not understand what was happening, and I explained it to him. At the end of the story, he said “wow, ‘Alpha Child’ was so interesting.” It really unleashed his imagination. He was still talking about it the next morning. The other day he watched one episode on his own, without me there to explain it to him. The series was filmed in 1976, 25 years before he was born, but he still likes it, which is quite a gap.

The series stars Martin Landau, who went on to critical acclaim in films by Francis Ford Coppola (Tucker: A Man And His Dream, where he got an Academy Award nomination), Tim Burton (Ed Wood – his portrayal of Bela Lugosi won him the Academy Award for best supporting actor) and Woody Allen (Crimes and Misdemeanors). Barbara Bain didn’t go on to that kind of fame, but she was looking pretty good in the series even though she was over 45 at the time. They were married from 1957 to 1993, 36 years (not bad for a Hollywood couple), and they were together in two colon:ized series (“Mission: Impossible” and “Space: 1999″).

Zen is quite interested in astronomy. Today we talked about the planets of the solar system, which ones have atmospheres and which ones don’t, which ones have a solid crust, and which ones blend the atmosphere with the mantle, and all sorts of groovy space stuff like that. It was really great fun. Recently we gave him a book on the universe and the solar system, it seems like he enjoys it a lot.

Here are a few photos of the series:

AAS1999

AAS1999

Scary!!!

Scary!!!

Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair

We're a happy family!

We're a happy family!

Tony 'n' Maya

Tony 'n' Maya

Cool crew!

Cool crew!

Maya - before and after

Maya - before and after

Barbara Bain - NOT Barbara Bach...

Barbara Bain - NOT Barbara Bach...

I.M.B.B.

I.M.B.B.

Here’s the intro to Season 1:

Here’s the intro/outro to Season 2: